PNP to appeal DOJ dismissal of raps vs. Tunisian ISIS suspect

MANILA The Philippine National Police will appeal the Department of Justice's (DOJ) dismissal of the criminal complaint against suspected Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist Fehmi Lassqued, a Tunisian national, and his Filipina live-in partner Anabel Salipada.

"It's an unfortunate news for the PNP but anyway this is not yet final," PNP spokesman Chief Supt. John Bulalacao said in a press conference Thursday.

"The arresting officers can avail of other remedies like a petition for review before the secretary of the DOJ and meantime let us just leave this to the disposition of the investigating teams or their legal officers," he added.

In a resolution, DOJ Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter L. Ong dismissed the complaint for illegal possession of explosive devices and firearms filed by the PNP Regional Police Intelligence Operations Unit (RPIOU) of the National Capital Region Police Office and the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the two suspects for lack of merit.

After a careful review and evaluation of the evidence submitted by the parties, the undersigned finds no probable cause to charge respondents for violations of RA 10591 and RA 9516, read the DOJ resolution approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Rassenell Rex Gingoyon and Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr.

The two were arrested in Ermita, Manila last Feb. 16 by joint operatives of the PNP and the Philippine Army, pursuant to a search warrant issued by the Makati City Regional Trial Court.

The charge sheet signed by Supt. Carlito Narag Jr., RPIOU chief, sought the indictment of the suspects for violations of RA 10591 and RA 9516.

In his counter-affidavit, Lassqued said he was not arrested in Ermita, Manila but in Ayala Triangle on Feb. 16 while he was taking his cigarette break from his Spanish class.

Salipada, on the other hand, also denied owning the explosive devices and the firearm. She said when the police searched their apartment in Manila she was taken and held outside the apartment.

Ong said that among the evidence presented, both the suspects and the arresting officers admitted that the five photographs of the seized items taken inside Room 409 but did not include the arresting officers and the suspects.

The prosecutor citing photographs said Lassqued was likely not present inside Room 409, on February 16, 2018, during the implementation of SW M. 18-003, and further support Fehmi Lassqued's story that he was later brought to an unfamiliar room with the seized articles, he pointed out.

The prosecutor also learned that Salipada was brought by authorities to the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center on Feb. 17 for medical examination while Lassqued was taken at the Army General Hospital in Fort Andres Bonifacio on February 18.

Finally, the fact that both respondents underwent medical examination at two different places and on two different occasions suggests that they were arrested in separate places at different time, the prosecutors said.

Source: Philippine News Agency